Monday, September 7, 2015
A Tragic End To ‘Estado Português da Índia’ Excerpts Translated by Dr. Ferdinando dos Reis Falcão
The TRUE and CORRECT History of GOA, Estado da Índia. Of the Invasion of Goa by the Indian Union. A History of the Portuguese military and the Governor General. A history which the New Generation of GOANS never heard. They were taught False and Doctored History, and are still being taught the same.
(Excerpts from “Correio da Manhã” translated by Dr. Ferdinando dos Reis Falcão.)
A Tragic End To ‘Estado Português da Índia”
On 18th December 1961, the Indian Union attacked Goa, Damão & Diu. In a few hours Portugal lost a Heritage of 500 years. A message sent some 50 years back by António de Oliveira Salazar to General Vassalo e Silva, Governor of Estado Português da Índia (i.e. Goa Daman and Diu), explained what the President of the Council of Ministers expected of the military in response to an attack by the Indian Union. “I don’t foresee possibility of truce nor of Portuguese prisoners, as there won’t be surrendering ships; so I feel that there will just be soldiers and sailors who are victorious or dead…”
The message was received on 14th of December 1961, two days after Vassalo e Silva ordered the evacuation by ship, the families of the Portuguese soldiers. The territories of Goa, Damão & Diu were guarded by 3500 military personnel and less than a thousand Goan police. At the frontier the Indian Union had amassed 45 thousand soldiers, supported by two aircraft carriers, several warships, airplanes and hundreds of combat vehicles.
The attack was expected. For more than a year Salazar had ignored the attempts of Nehru, president of the Indian Union, for transferring the sovereignty by diplomatic means; but nobody knew to state where nor when. There was also the hope that the invasion would not happen. The then captain Carlos Azeredo, commander of the Police of Goa, shared this feeling: “The people didn’t believe, neither did I. There already were several threats that never materialised. As Nehru, president of India, had the pretention of saying that he was a pacifist, I never believed that he make war against a small thing that was practically unarmed"
In the early hours of the dawn of December 18, the Indian military columns entered in Goa from the north and from the south. The smallest territories of Damão and Diu were also attacked. The Portuguese military forced themselves into following as stipulated in the 'Sentry Plan', a defence strategy that was based in phased retreat of the forces from the borders to the coast. The objective was to delay the enemy's progression, with the destruction of bridges and highways. "It was a stupid and impractical plan, designed by someone in Lisbon who didn't have any idea of Goa, Damão and Diu", said Carlos Azeredo, based close to the capital of Goa, Pangim.
The Portuguese soldiers had arms from the First World War, and with ammunition in such bad state that it was frequent that they didn’t fire at all. An episode that exposed bare the vulnerability of the defence. Weeks before the invasion, a consignment of sausages had reached the port of Mormugão in Goa and word went around that artillery ammunition had arrived. But in the end the consignment from Lisbon was in fact sausages for the troops for Christmas.
The military power of the Indian forces was humbling. In few hours, Indian Union troops advanced almost without opposition. The planes flew over the Portuguese troops: “An Indian plane flew over us at nine in the morning and they didn't shoot. Contrary to what one expects; that was a lot demoralizing. We understood we didn't stand a chance", recounts João Aranha, who commanded the 2nd Division of the Police, in the North of Goa. In the morning of the 19th, Pangim was surrounded. The defeat was evident. The Governor Vassalo e Silva entrusted the Bishop to convey the surrender to the Indian command.
HERO OF WAR
Practically all the Portuguese forces surrendered on December 19th . 25 military personnel died, but most of the soldiers didn't even enter combat. There was an exception. In the island of Angediva, a small territory to the South of Goa, which may have inspired the ‘Island of the Loves’ of Camões; and at Fort Aguada; where there were jailed those responsible for terrorist acts that were repeatedly occurring in the region in the previous years; the Portuguese did not lose face to defeat. The dispatch boat 'Afonso of Albuquerque', the largest warship present fought till it was sunk. But it was in Diu that the hero of the resistance emerged.
Lieutenant Oliveira e Carmo, commander of the Customs motorboat 'Vega', attacked an Indian cruiser with their seven crew members. Machine gunned by airplanes, Carmo died along with two more sailors. He left behind his widow and two children. "They say that he was a hero. For me he’ll always be Jorge, my children's father. He did what was expected from him. In those conditions, the Jorge that I knew could only have that reaction: to combat" said Maria do Carmo, who was in Lisbon, pregnant with the second son.
FIVE MONTHS OF CAPTIVITY
After the surrender, more than three thousand Portuguese military personnel were prisoners. The Indians built four camps of prisoners in existing Portuguese military installations: Ponda (where two camps were arranged), Alparqueiros(Vasco) and Aguada. The governor Vassalo e Silva was kept captive with his two assistants, in a house in Ponda. There he was visited by Jorge Jardim , special envoy of Salazar, who left him a capsule of cyanide. But the last Governador da Índia refused the suicide.
The conditions at the prison camps were harsh. "The food was horrible. We ate black-eyed beans every day. Some cardboards as our beds to sleep on the floor. We tried to make improvised straw mattresses, but they filled up with bugs", says the then First Corporal, Eng. José Rodrigues Manta, prisoner at Ponda. In that camp, three military prisoners tried to flee in a garbage truck, but they were reported by one Portuguese. At the parade, the Indian Commander asked who wanted to punish the informer, and the answer was unanimous: "All." Taken aback, the commander ordered guns to be aimed at the prisoners. The firing squad was avoided, thanks to the intervention of Fr. Joaquim Ferreira, chaplain of Ponda.
At Alparqueiros (Vasco), another escape bid failed. Eleven military personnel escaped, but they were betrayed by the Captain of the boat that was to help them. Worse than the captivity was the uncertainty of the future: "The Indians told us that we were there only because the Portuguese Government didn't want them back. And they were right. Salazar did everything to hinder our return", recalls Carlos Azeredo.
In fact, Salazar raised one after another obstacles to the negotiations. The dictator was not forgiving the fact of the military not having fought. His plan was to show to the World violence of the Indian Union. He thought that a blood bath would make the international community take the side of the Portugal.
The repatriation happened only in May of 1962, with a flight service from Goa to Karachi, in Pakistan. From there the military were transported in three ships to Lisbon. On arrival, they were called traitors. Eight officials, including the Governor General, were dismissed. The other five compulsorily retired, and eight were suspended for six months.
THE LIEUTENANT WHO CHOSE TO DIE FOR THE HOMELAND
In Diu, the Indian attack lasted few hours. The disproportion of forces was humiliating, but the lieutenant Jorge Manuel de Oliveira e Carmo did not hesitate. When he sighted enemy ships, he took reins of the motorboat 'Vega.' In the morning of December 18, on sighting an Indian cruiser, the second lieutenant Carmo manoeuvred the 'Vega' in the direction of the enemy. Two airplanes shot at motorboat, killing a sailor. The commander was seriously wounded. One of his last gestures was to kiss a picture of his wife and children. He was promoted posthumous to captain-lieutenant, having also been awarded the medal of “Valor Militar com Palma” and graced with the grade of Commander of the Military Order of the “Torre e Espada”